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Aristotle METAPHYSICA Book 5 Part 13

Quantum, plurality

1. 'Quantum' means that which is divisible into two or more constituent parts of which each is by nature a 'one' and a 'this'. A quantum is a plurality if it is numerable, a magnitude if it is a measurable. 'Plurality' means that which is divisible potentially into non-continuous parts, 'magnitude' that which is divisible into continuous parts; of magnitude, that which is continuous in one dimension is length; in two breadth, in three depth. Of these, limited plurality is number, limited length is a line, breadth a surface, depth a solid.

2. Again, some things are called quanta in virtue of their own nature, others incidentally; e.g. the line is a quantum by its own nature, the musical is one incidentally. Of the things that are quanta by their own nature some are so as substances, e.g. the line is a quantum (for 'a certain kind of quantum' is present in the definition which states what it is), and others are modifications and states of this kind of substance, e.g. much and little, long and short, broad and narrow, deep and shallow, heavy and light, and all other such attributes. And also great and small, and greater and smaller, both in themselves and when taken relatively to each other, are by their own nature attributes of what is quantitative; but these names are transferred to other things also. Of things that are quanta incidentally, some are so called in the sense in which it was said that the musical and the white were quanta, viz. because that to which musicalness and whiteness belong is a quantum, and some are quanta in the way in which movement and time are so; for these also are called quanta of a sort and continuous because the things of which these are attributes are divisible. I mean not that which is moved, but the space through which it is moved; for because that is a quantum movement also is a quantum, and because this is a quantum time is one.


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